Oh, I see what we're talking about here. For those that aren't on board, it was just released as an Extra Credits episode, here:http://extra-credits.net/episodes/counter-play/
Essentially, the entire idea is that the mechanic in question must not just be fun for the player using it, but fun for the player it's being used on
, with the examples given of World of Tanks, with snipers needing spotters, and so there can be strategies to counter sniping by taking out the spotters, as opposed to just getting sniped over and over and over
as in, say, Halo.
Another example was with skill shots in LoL, in that knowledge of your opponent having a skill shot makes you do a dance with them around the creeps in the laning phase, and trying to lure their hero to unsafe territory where he or she can get ganked, and the opponent knowing about this, and so forth.
On the forums, there's also the concept of David Sirlin's "Yomi", in that player A can take some action (say, a strong attack with invincibility frames but longer recovery), player B can counter with block+counterattack, player A can instead grab player B (counters blocking), player B can counter that with a quick jab (comes out faster than a grab), and player A can do the original technique again, since the invincibility frames mitigate the jab.
The entire idea of counterplay is that out of the box, any one strategy can counter every other strategy in the game. The key, though, is that it can't counter everything at once
In terms of Alteil?
This is Alteil's greatest weakness. We all know that the lopsided matchups exist. The game, IMO, is built
upon having lopsided matchups, to discourage any one card from being used too much. And unto my experience, errata has been dedicated not to increasing counterplay, but to increase weaknesses. Here are some files that were able to have a pretty well-rounded game:
Pegasus kingdom with 60 HP elite (errata made matchups vs. bigs worse)
Gowen Fierte (errata made matchups vs. rushes worse, which were already where it suffered--bigs still will get crushed).
Primclone (rushes will still get owned, but anyone who was clear of the whole EXPrim+return nonsense had a much better time. Weakness added to put taking out mids out of reach)
DioMana control (what's this? Another agility-manipulating tank that'll help you set up and revive archmages to return? We can't have that
EXLap (if you can't get past the DF, you lose anyway, but against files that could put up a fight? Bye bye AoE heal).
Dilate/Ruuca: (she'll still trash rushes, but the idea of having her re-healing herself and restoring her stats to hold out against bigs/mids--you know, the way Phoenix chick does at the moment? Gone.)
Of course, the cards get used less, but they don't get used less because they lost their core strength--they get used because they have new weaknesses
, that makes the quest to have a balanced file that much harder.
Honestly, I'm going to be a conspiracy theorist here and say that the idea of counterplay is antithetical to Alteil's business model. After all, if I can build a file (or even a few files) that have good counterplay options, then I won't need to buy any more cards. So of course
the testing team is interested in making sure there's poor counterplay, since poor counterplay is what causes people to try and make different files, so that they could beat the files that give their original files problems.
Notice that when counterplay is kept independent of making money, you have good counterplay, and when winning depends on a race to buy power, you have trash counterplay, and errata to ensure that counterplay remains trashier?